|Dante Alighieri - Opera Omnia >> The new life|
lalighieri text integral passage complete quotation of the sources comedies works historical literary works in prose and in verses
Translated by A.S.Kline
[ Introduction ]
II [ I ]
[ The first meeting with Beatrice ]
At that moment I say truly that the vital spirit, that which lives in the most secret chamber of the heart began to tremble so violently that I felt it fiercely in the least pulsation, and, trembling, it uttered these words: ‘Ecce deus fortior me, qui veniens dominabitur michi: Behold a god more powerful than I, who, coming, will rule over me.’ At that moment the animal spirit, that which lives in the high chamber to which all the spirits of the senses carry their perceptions, began to wonder deeply at it, and, speaking especially to the spirit of sight, spoke these words: ‘Apparuit iam beatitudo vestra: Now your blessedness appears.’ At that moment the natural spirit, that which lives in the part where our food is delivered, began to weep, and weeping said these words: ‘Heu miser, quia frequenter impeditus ero deinceps!: Oh misery, since I will often be troubled from now on!’
From then on I say that Amor governed my soul, which was so soon wedded to him, and began to acquire over me such certainty and command, through the power my imagination gave him, that I was forced to carry out his wishes fully. He commanded me many times to discover whether I might catch sight of this most tender of angels, so that in my boyhood I many times went searching, and saw her to be of such noble and praiseworthy manners, that certainly might be said of her those words of the poet Homer: ‘She did not seem to be the daughter of a mortal man, but of a god’. And though her image, that which was continually with me, was a device of Amor’s to govern me, it was nevertheless of so noble a virtue that it never allowed Amor to rule me without the loyal counsel of reason in all those things where such counsel was usefully heard.
But because it might seem fiction to some to dwell on the passions and actions of such tender years, I will leave them, and passing over many things that might be derived from the sample from which these were taken, I will come to those words that are written in my memory under more important heads.
III [ II ]
[ Years later she greets him ]
[III] And thinking of her a sweet sleep overcame me, in which a marvellous vision appeared to me: so that it seemed I saw in my room a flame-coloured nebula, in the midst of which I discerned the shape of a lord of fearful aspect to those who gazed on him: and he appeared to me with such joy, so much joy within himself, that it was a miraculous thing: and in his speech he said many things, of which I understood only a few: among them I understood this: ‘Ego dominus tuus: I am your lord.’
It seemed to me he held a figure sleeping in his arms, naked except that it seemed to me to be covered lightly with a crimson cloth: gazing at it very intently I realised it was the lady of the greeting, she who had deigned to greet me before that day. And in one of his hands it seemed to me that heheld something completely on fire, and he seemed to say to me these words: ‘Vide cor tuum: Look upon your heart. And when he had stood for a while, he seemed to wake her who slept: and by his art was so forceful that he made her eat the thing that burned in her hand, which she ate hesitantly.
After waiting for a little while his joy was all turned to bitter grief: and, so grieving, he gathered that lady in his arms, and it seemed to me that he ascended with her towards heaven: from which I experienced such anguish that my light sleep could not endure it, and so was broken, and was dispersed. And immediately I began to reflect, and discovered that the hour in which this vision appeared to me was the fourth of that night: so as to be manifestly clear, it was the first hour of the nine last hours of night.
Thinking to myself about what had appeared to me, I decided to make it known to many who were famous poets of the time: and as it was a fact that I had already gained for myself to some extent the art of speaking words in rhyme, I decided to shape a sonetto, in which I would greet all those faithful to Amor: and begging them to interpret my vision, I wrote for them what I had seen in my sleep. And then I began this sonetto, that which begins: A ciascun'alma presa e gentil core.
To every captive soul and gentle heartThis sonnet is divided in two parts: so that in the first part I greet and demand reply, in the second I signify what must be replied to. The second part begins with: ‘Già eran: Already (a third)’. There were replies from many to this sonnet and of differing interpretation: among those who replied was one whom I call the foremost of my friends, and he wrote then a sonnet, that which begins: ‘Vedeste, al mio parere, onne valore: You saw, it seems to me, every virtue.’
And this was virtually the beginning of the friendship between him and myself, when he knew that it was I who had made the request of him. The true meaning of that dream was not then seen by anyone, but now it is clear to the most unknowing.
[ The effects of Love on him ]
I spoke of Amor, because I bore so many signs of him in my face, that they could not be concealed. And, when they asked me: ‘For whom has Amor so distressed you?’ gazing at them I smiled, and said nothing to them.
[ The screen lady ]
Then many were aware of her look, and in a while were certain of it, so that, in leaving the place, I heard it spoken after me: ‘See how that lady has distressed his person’ and being named, I realised that he was speaking of her who had been placed in the straight line that started at the most graceful Beatrice, and ended at my eyes. Then I was greatly comforted, assured that my secret had not been revealed to others by my gaze that day.
And immediately I thought of making of this lady a screen before the truth: and I pretended to it so often in so short a time that my secret was believed known by most of the people who speculated about me. I screened myself with this lady for some months and years: and to better allow others to believe it, I created certain little things for her in verse, which it is not my intention to write down, unless they mainly set out to treat of that most graceful Beatrice: and therefore I will forget them all except one that I wrote which can be seen to be in praise of her.
[ He composes the serventese of the sixty ladies ]
[ The screen lady's departure ]
O you who on the way of Love go by,This sonetto has two main parts: in the first I mean to call on those loyal to Amor in the words that Jeremiah the prophet spoke: ‘O vos omnes qui transitis per viam, attendite et videte si est dolor sicut meus: O all you who pass this way, listen and see, if there is any grief like mine,’ and to beg them to allow me to be heard: in the second part I say where Amor had placed me, with an intention opposite to that which the outer extremes of the sonetto reveal, and I tell what I have lost. The second part begins at: ‘Amor non gia: Amor indeed, not.’
[ Dante's poem on the death of Beatrice's companion ]
And I touched on this a little in the last part of the words I wrote, as is clearly apparent to those who understand. And then I wrote these two sonetti, the first of which begins: ‘Piangete, amanti,’ and the second: ‘Morte villana.’
Weep you lovers, since Love is also weeping,This first sonetto is divided into three parts: in the first part I call on and beg those loyal to Amor to weep and I say that their lord is weeping, and I say ‘hear the reason that makes him full of tears’ so that they might be more ready to listen to me: in the second I narrate the cause: in the third I speak of the honour that Amor paid this lady. The second part begins with: ‘Amor sente: Amor feels,’ the third with: ‘Audite: Hear.’
Death the villain, enemy of pity,This sonetto is divided into four parts: in the first part I call on Death by certain of his true names: in the second, speaking to him, I tell the reason why he moves me to blame him: in the third I revile him: in the fourth I turn to speak to an unspecified person, though he is specified by my intention. The second begins with: ‘poi che hai data: since you have given’: the third with: ‘E s’io di grazia: And if by grace’: the fourth with: ‘Chi non merta salute: He who does not deserve grace.’
[ Dante's journey: the new screen lady ]
And so the sweetest lord who ruled over me through the virtue of my most graceful lady appeared in my imagination like a traveller simply dressed, in coarse cloth. He seemed to me dejected, and gazed at the ground, except when he seemed to me to turn his eyes towards a beautiful and clearest of running streams, which ran along the way I was going.
It seemed to me that Amor called my name and said these words to me: ‘I come from that lady who has long been your screen, and I know that her return will not be for some time, and so I have with me that heart which I made you leave with her, and I carry it to a lady who will become your defence, as she was.’ And he named her name to me, so that I knew her well. ‘But take care, if you repeat any thing of these words I have mentioned to you, that it be in such a way that no one discerns by them the false love you have shown, and which you must show to another.’
And speaking these words he departed my imagination quite suddenly for the most part, as it seemed that Amor merged himself with me: and somewhat changed in my appearance, I rode on that day thinking deeply and accompanied by many sighs. After that day I began this sonetto, which begins: ‘Cavalcando’.
Riding the other day along a track,This sonetto has three parts: in the first I say how I met Amor and how he seemed to me: in the second I say what he said to me, thought not completely for fear of revealing my secret: in the third I say how he vanished. The second begins with: ‘Quando mi vide: When he saw me’: the third: ‘Allora presi: Then I took.’
[ Beatrice refuses to greet him ]
And leaving the present subject somewhat, I want to make clear how her greeting worked within me virtuously.
[ The effects on him of her greeting ]
And when she was on the point of greeting me, a spirit of love, suppressing all the other spirits of the senses, made the weak spirits of vision scatter, and said to them: ‘Go and honour your lady’, and it remained so in their place. And whoever had a desire to know Love, could have done so by watching the trembling of my eyes.
And when this most graceful one made things well by greeting me, it was not that Love so came between us that it could cloud in me the unbearable blessedness, but almost by overpowering sweetness it came to be such that my body, which was then wholly under its sway, often moved like a heavy and inanimate object. So it is clearly seen that all my blessedness, which often surpassed and overfilled my capacity, lay in her greeting.
[ He dreams of the young man dressed in white ]
It happened that about the middle of my sleep I seemed to see a young man dressed in the whitest of white sitting next to me in my room, and, deeply thoughtful in his aspect, he gazed at me where I lay: and when he had gazed a while it seemed to me he called to me sighing, and said these words: ‘Fili mi, tempus est ut praetermittantur simulacra nostra: My son, it is time to set aside our pretences.’ Then it seemed to me that I knew him, because he called to me as he had many times called to me in my dreams: and regarding him it seemed to me that he was weeping piteously, and seemed to be waiting for some word from me: so that, taking heart, I began to speak to him so: ‘Lord of nobility, why do you weep?’ And he said these words to me: ‘Ego tanquam centrum circuli, cui simili modo se habent circumferentiae partes: tu autem non sic: I am as the centre of a circle, to which the parts of the circumference have a similar relation: you however are not so.’
Then, thinking about his words, it seemed to me he had spoken very obscurely: so that I forced myself to speak and said these words: ‘What is it, lord, that you say to me so obscurely?’ And he replied to me in the common tongue: ‘Do not demand more than is helpful to you.’ And so I began then to discuss the greeting which had been denied me, and I asked the reason: to which the reply came from him to me: ‘Our Beatrice heard from certain people, speaking of you, that the lady whom I named to you on the road of sighs, has met with some discourtesy from you: and so this most graceful one, who is the opposite of all discourtesy, did not deign to greet your person, fearing you might show discourtesy.
Since it is a fact that in truth your secret is partly known to her through lengthy observation, I wish you to say certain words in verse in which you will declare the power I have had over you through her, and how you were hers, wholly, from your childhood. And for that demand testimony of him who knows, and say how you beg him to tell her of it: and I, who am he, will tell her freely: and in this way she will come to know your will, knowing which she will unpick the words of the informants. Make those words act as a go-between so that you do not speak to her directly: which is not appropriate: and do not send them anywhere without me, where they might be heard by her, but have them adorned by sweet music, in which I can reside at all the times when I am needed.’
And saying these words he vanished, and my dream was broken. When I reflected on it, I found that this vision appeared to me in the ninth hour of the day: and before I went out of my room I decided to make a ballata in which I would carry out what my lord had commanded me: and later I made this ballata, that begins: ‘Ballata, i' voi’.
Ballad, I would have you find Amor,This ballata is divided into three parts: in the first part I say where it should journey, and I encourage it to travel more safely, and I say what company it should be in it if wishes to go safely and without any danger: in the second I say what it is it needs to make known: in the third I license it to go when it wishes, recommending its movements to the embrace of fortune. The second part begins with: ‘Con dolze sono: With sweet sounds’: the third with: ‘Gentil ballata: Gentle ballad.’
Someone might raise an objection against me and say that it is not known whom I address in the second person, since the ballata is no more than the words that I wrote: and so I say that I intend to resolve this doubt and clarify it later in this little book regarding an even more difficult passage: and then let him who doubts understand, or let him who wishes to object do so at that time.
[ The war of conflicting thoughts ]
And each of these so contended in me, that I became like he who does not know which road to choose for his journey, and who wants to go and does not know which way to go: and if I thought to try and find the common path among them, in which all of them might meet, it was a way most inimical to me, it was to call on and throw myself into the arms of Pity. And remaining in this state, I felt the desire to write words of verse: and then I wrote this sonetto, which begins: ‘Tutti li mei penser’.
Every one of my thoughts speaks of Love:This sonetto can be divided into four parts: in the first I speak and declare that all my thoughts are of Love: in the second I say that they are diverse, and I describe their diversity: in the third I say in what way they seem in accord: in the fourth I say that wishing to speak of Love, I do not know which to choose as my theme, and if I wish to choose them all I am forced to call on my enemy, my lady Pity: and I say ‘my lady’ as a disdainful mode of speech. The second part begins with: ‘e hanno in lor: and they have in them’: the third with: ‘e sol s’accordano: and they only agree’: the fourth with: ‘Ond'io non so: Therefore I do not know’.
[ Dante faints at the marriage scene ]
And the truth is that they were gathered in the company of a gentle lady who had been wedded that day: and so, following the custom of the city, it was necessary for them to keep her company the first time she sat at table in her husband’s house.
So I, believing that it would please this friend, decided to stay and attend upon the ladies in her company. And at the moment of my decision I seemed to feel a strange tremor start under my left breast and spread suddenly through all the parts of my body. Then I say I quietly leaned back against a fresco that ran round the walls of the house: and fearing lest others might be aware of my trembling, I raised my eyes, and gazing at the ladies, I saw the most graceful Beatrice among them.
Then my spirits were so scattered by the force that Love gained finding himself so near to the most graceful lady, that only the spirits of sight remained alive: and even they remained lost to their visual organs since Love wished to stand in their noblest of places to see the miraculous lady. And though I was other than at first, I grieved greatly for these little spirits who were lamenting loudly and saying: ‘If he had not shot us out of our place, we could have stayed to see the marvel of this lady as all our other parts have stayed.’
I say that many of those ladies aware of my transfiguration, then began to wonder, and then speak mockingly of me with this most gentle one: at which my friend, innocent of this in all good faith, took me by the hand, and led me from the sight of those ladies, then asked what troubled me.
Then, somewhat rested, and my mortal spirits revived, and those scattered returned to their possession, I said these words to that friend: ‘I have set foot in that region of life where it is not possible to go with any more intention of returning.’ And parting from him I returned to my chamber of tears: in which, weeping and shame-faced, I said to myself: ‘If my lady knew of my condition, I do not believe she would mock my person, in fact I believe she would inwardly feel much pity.’
And whilst in this state of weeping, I decided to speak words in which, speaking to her, I would explain the cause of my transfiguration, and say that I well knew that it was not known, and that, if it were known I believed that pity would be stirred in others: and I decided to speak desiring that it might come by chance to her ears. And then I wrote this sonetto, which begins: ‘Con l'altre donne’.
With the other ladies you mock my looks,I will not divide this sonetto into its parts, since the division is only made to clarify the sense of the thing so divided: so as this thing is such that in the telling the logic is clear enough, it does not need dividing. It is true that among the words in which the logic of this sonetto is shown, are written some obscure words, those where I say that Love kills all my spirits, and those of sight remain alive, except they flee their organs of vision. And this obscurity is impossible to explain to one who is not in a similar manner one of Love’s faithful: and to those who are it is obvious what clarifies the obscure words: and so it is no use for me to clarify that obscurity, since my words of clarification would be pointless, and indeed superfluous.
[ The reason why he continues to try and see her ]
And another humble thought echoed this, and said: ‘If I did not lose my wits, and felt free enough to be able to reply, I would tell her that as soon as I imagine her miraculous beauty, so quickly the desire to see her seizes me, which is so powerful, that it slays and destroys whatever in my memory could rise against it: and so my past sufferings do not restrain me from trying to catch sight of her.’
So, moved by these thoughts, I decided to speak certain words, in which I might excuse myself for this reprehensible thought, explaining also what happened to me near her: and I wrote this sonetto, which begins: ‘Ciò che m'incontra’.
All I encounter in my mind dies,This sonetto is divided in two parts: in the first I give the reason why I do not hold myself from going near to this lady: in the second I say what happens to me from going near her: and this second part begins with: ‘e quand'io vi son presso: and when I am near you.’ And also this second part can be divided in five, according to the five differing subjects: in the first I say what Love, counselled by reason, says to me when I am near her: in the second I show the state of my heart revealed in my face: in the third I say how I come to lose all confidence: in the fourth I say what sin they commit who do not show pity for me, since it would be some comfort to me: in the last I say why others should have pity, and that is because of the pitiful look that fills my eyes: this pitiful look is destroyed, that is does not appear to others, by this lady's mockery, which draws to similar action those who perhaps might well see that piteousness.
The second part begins with: ‘Lo viso mostra: the face shows’: the third with: ‘e per la ebrietà: and in the vast intoxicating’: the fourth with: ‘Peccato face: They commit a sin’: the fifth: ‘per la pietà: through pity’.
[ His state on being in love ]
Often it is brought home to my mindThis sonetto is divided into four parts, in accord with the four things spoken of within it: and since they are explained above, I will not comment except to distinguish the parts by their beginnings: so I say that the second part begins with: ‘ch'Amor: since Amor’: the third with: ‘Poscia mi sforzo: I renew my strength’: the fourth with: ‘e se io levo: and if I lift’.
[ He ceases to address her in verse ]
[ He takes praise of Beatrice as his new theme ]
The lady who had called to me was a lady of very sweet speech: so that when I had reached them, and saw clearly that my most graceful lady was not with them, I was reassured enough to greet them, and ask their pleasure. The ladies were many, among whom certain were laughing amongst themselves: others were gazing at me waiting to hear what I should say: others again were talking among themselves.
Of these one, turning her eyes towards me and calling me by name, said these words: ‘What is the point of your love for your lady, since you cannot endure her presence? Tell us, since the point of such love must surely be a very strange one.’ And when she had spoken these words, not only she, but all the others, seemed by their faces to wait for my reply.
Then I spoke these words to her: ‘My lady, the point of my love was once that lady’s greeting, she whom perhaps you know, and in that rested the blessedness, which was the point of all my desires. But since she was pleased to deny it me, my lord Love, in his mercy, has set all my blessedness in that which I cannot lose.’
Then those ladies began to speak amongst themselves: and as we sometimes see rain falling mixed with beautiful snowflakes, so I seemed to hear their words emerge mixed with sighs. And when they had spoken a while among themselves, that lady who had spoken to me at first still said to me these words: ‘We beg you to tell us, where is your blessedness.’
And I, replying to them, said this: ‘In those words that praise my lady.’ Then she who had spoken to me replied: ‘If you were speaking truth to us, those words you have written to explain your condition would have been composed with a different intent.’
So I, thinking about those words, almost ashamed, parted from them, and went along saying to myself: ‘Since there is such blessedness in those words that praise my lady, why have I spoken in another manner?’ And so I decided to take as the theme of my words forever more those which sung the praises of that very graceful one: and thinking about it deeply, it seemed to me I had taken on a theme too high for me, so that I dared not begin: and I remained for several days with the desire to write and in fear of beginning.
[ He writes a first canzone in praise of Beatrice ]
Then I say that my tongue spoke as if it moved by itself, and said: ‘Ladies who have knowledge of love.’ These words I stored in my mind with great delight, thinking to use them for my opening: so then, returning to the city, thinking for several days, I began a canzone with that opening, ordered in a way that will be seen in its divisions. The canzone begins: ‘Donne ch'avete’.
Ladies who have knowledge of love,This canzone, so that it may be better understood, I will divide more intricately than the other poems above. And so I will first define three parts: the first part is a prelude to the following words: the second is the subject I treat of: the third is like a servant to the preceding words. The second begins with: ‘Angelo clama: An angel sings’: the third with: ‘Canzone, io so che: Canzone I know that’.
The first part is divided in four: in the first I say to whom I wish to speak about my lady, and why I wish to speak: in the second I say what state I seem to be in when I think of her virtue, and what I would speak of if I did not lose courage: in the third I say how I believe I must speak of her in order not to be held back by diffidence. in the fourth, restating to whom I intend to speak, I give the reason why I speak to them. The second begins with: ‘Io dico: I say’: the third with: ‘E io non vo' parlar: And I would not speak ’: the fourth: ‘donne e donzelle: ladies and young ladies’.
Next where I say: ‘Angelo clama’ I begin to treat of this lady. And I divide this part in two: in the first I say what is known of her in Heaven: in the second I say what is known of her on Earth, with: ‘Madonna è disiata: My lady is desired’. This second part is divided in two: so that in the first I speak of her regarding the nobility of her spirit, saying something of her active virtues that proceed from her spirit: in the second I speak of her regarding the nobility of her body, saying something about her beauty, with: ‘Dice de lei Amor: Amor says of her’. This second part is divided in two: as in the first I speak of certain beauties which belong to her whole person, in the second I speak of certain beauties which belong to distinct parts of her person, with: ‘De li occhi suoi: From her eyes’. This second part is divided in two: for in the one I speak of her eyes, which are the source of love: in the second I speak of her mouth, which is love’s end. And so that all evil thought may be dispersed here and now, remember you who read, that it is written above that my lady’s greeting, that which arose from the movement of her mouth, was the end of my desires, while I could receive it.
Next where I say: ‘Canzone, io so che tu: Canzone, I know that you’ I add a stanza almost as a handmaiden to the others in which I say what I desire of my canzone: and since the last part is easy to understand I will not trouble to divide it further. I agree that to understand this canzone further it would be necessary to employ more minute divisions: but anyone who has insufficient wit to be able to understand it from the divisions made will not displease me if they leave it alone, since I am afraid I have certainly communicated its meaning to too many, by the divisions I have made, if it comes about that many are able to hear it.
[ He is requested to say what Love is ]
Love and the gentle heart are one thing,This sonetto is divided in two parts: in the first I say of him what he is potentially: in the second I say of him how the potentiality fulfils itself in actuality. The second begins with ‘Bieltate appare: Beauty may appear’. The first divides in two: in the first I say in what object this potentiality exists: in the second I say how this object and this potentiality come into being, and how the one enshrines the other as form content. The second begins with: ‘Falli natura: Nature takes’. Then where I say: ‘Bieltate appare’ I say how the potentiality fulfils itself in actuality: and firstly how it fulfils itself in a man, then how it fulfils itself in a lady, with: ‘E simil face in donna: And likewise in a lady works’.
[ How Beatrice wakens Love ]
In her eyes my lady bears Love,This sonetto has three parts: in the first I say how my lady fulfils what is potential in actuality through that most noble part, her eyes: and in the third I say how she does the same through that most noble part, her mouth: and between these two parts is a brief part, which is almost a demand for help from the preceding and following parts, and begins with: ‘Aiutatemi, donne: Help me, ladies’. The third begins with: ‘Ogni dolcezza: All sweetness’.
The first is divided in three: in the first part I say how virtuously she makes noble all she sees, and that is as much as to say that she brings love into existence potentially where he is not: in the second I say how she brings love to actuality in the hearts of those whom she sees: in the third I say how her power operates virtuously on their hearts. The second begins with: ‘ov'ella passa: where she passes’: the third with ‘e cui saluta: and in him she greets.’
Next where I say: ‘Aiutatemi, donne’ is shown to whom it is my intention to speak, calling on ladies to help me honour her. Then where I say: ‘Ogne dolcezza’ I say the same as I said in the first part, in respect of two movements of her mouth: one of which is her speech so sweet, and the other her marvellous smile, except that I do not say what effect the latter has in other’s hearts, because the memory cannot retain it or its effect.
[ The death of Beatrice's father ]
It is the case that such a parting is saddening for those who are left behind, and are friends of the one who has gone from them: and there is no more intimate friendship than between a good father and a good daughter, a good daughter and a good father: and this lady was of the highest degree of goodness, and her father, as many believe and it is true, was to a high degree a good man: it is clear that this lady was filled with the most bitter of sorrows.
And because it is customary, following the manners of that city, for lady with lady, and gentleman with gentleman, to gather at such mourning, many ladies gathered where this Beatrice wept piteously: so that I, seeing some of the ladies returning from her, heard them talking about that most beautiful lady, and how she grieved: among their words I heard it said: ‘Certainly she weeps so, that anyone who gazes at her would die of pity.’
Then those ladies passed by: and I was left in such sadness that many tears bathed my face, such that I covered my face with my hands many times: and if it were not that I waited to hear more of her, since I was in a place where most of the women who left her would pass, I would have hidden myself as soon as the tears overpowered me.
So I remained in that same place, other ladies passing close by me,
among whom I heard these words mentioned as they went: ‘Who of us can ever be happy again, who have heard the piteous speech of this lady?’ After them other ladies passed, who went by saying: ‘This man is one who weeps no less then if he had seen her, as we have.’ Still others said of me: ‘Look at this man: who does not seem to be himself, he is so changed!’
And so as these ladies passed, I heard words about her and myself, in the manner I have written. Afterwards, thinking of them, I decided to write verses, considering I had a fitting reason for speech, in which I would compose all that those ladies had mentioned: and since I would have liked to have questioned them if it were not reprehensible to do so, I arranged the matter as if I had questioned them and they had answered.
And I made two sonettos: in the first I question, in the way I wished to question: in the other I speak their reply, taken from what I heard them say, as if they had answered so. And I began the first: ‘Voi che portate la sembianza humile’, and the other: ‘Se'tu colui c'hai trattato sovente.’
You who bear a humble look,This sonetto is divided in two parts: in the first I call to and ask of these ladies if they come from her, saying I believe it to be so, since they return so ennobled: in the second I beg them to speak to me of her. The second begins with ‘E se venite: And if you come from’. After it is the other sonetto, as I have said before.
Are you him that so often spokeThis sonetto has four parts, in accord with the four modes of speech of the ladies on whose behalf I reply: and as they are set out clearly enough above, I do not intend to spell out the content of each part, but only indicate them. The second begins with: ‘E perché piangi: And why do you weep’: the third: ‘Lascia piangere noi: Let us weep’: the fourth: ‘Ell'ha nel viso: She has a face.’
[ Dante's vision of Beatrice's death ]
And when I had thought of her a while, I returned to thinking about my weakened existence: and seeing how fragile our strength is, even in health, I began to weep about our miserable state. Then, sighing deeply, I said to myself likewise: ‘Of necessity it must be that some time the most graceful Beatrice must also die.’
And it threw me into such intense bewilderment that I closed my eyes, and began to be tormented by imagining this, like a delirious person: so that at the start of the wanderings of my imagination, the faces of certain women with dishevelled hair appeared to me, who said to me: ‘You will surely die’: and then, after these women, diverse other faces appeared to me, terrible to look on, that said to me: ‘You are dead’.
So, my imagination beginning to wander, I came to a place not knowing where I was: and it seemed to me I saw women, weeping, with dishevelled hair, going through the street, in extreme sadness: and the sun seemed to me to be darkened, so that the stars showed themselves of a colour such that I judged they were weeping: and it seemed to me that birds flying in the air fell dead, and there were massive tremors.
And marvelling in this fantasy, and very fearful, I imagined that a friend came to me saying: ‘Do you not know? Your miraculous lady has departed this world.’ Then I began to weep most piteously, and I did not only weep in imagination, but wept with my eyes, bathing them in real tears. I imagined I was gazing at the sky, and I seemed to see a multitude of angels who were returning to their place, and in front of them they had the whitest of little clouds. It seemed to me these angels were singing gloriously, and the words of their singing I seemed to hear were those of: ‘Osanna in excelsis: Hosanna in the highest’: and I could hear no more.
Then it seemed to me that my heart, where there was so much love, said to me: ‘It is true, our lady lies dead.’ And at this I seemed to go to gaze on the body in which that most beautiful and noble spirit had lived: and the wanderings of my imagination were so intense that dead lady was shown to me: and it seemed to me that women covered her, her head that is, with a white veil: and it seemed to me that her face has such a look of humility, that she seemed to say: ‘I am gazing on the source of peace.’
In this imagining I felt so much humility at seeing her, that I called Death, and said: ‘Sweetest Death, come to me, and do not be cruel to me, for you must have become gentle, after being in such a place! Now come to me, who desire you greatly: and you will see that I already wear your colours’.
And when I had seen the sad offices completed that are usually performed for the bodies of the dead, it seemed I returned to my room, and there I seemed to gaze at the sky: and my imagination was so intense that, weeping, I began to say in my true voice: ‘O most beautiful soul, how blessed is he who beholds you!’ And while I was speaking these words, with a painful anguish of tears, and calling to Death to come to me, a young and gentle lady, who was beside my bed, thinking that my tears and my words were solely from grief at my infirmity, began to weep herself, with great fearfulness. So that other women who were in the room realised that I wept because of the distress that they saw created in her: so making her, who was closely related to me, leave me, they came to me to wake me, thinking that I was dreaming, and said: ‘Sleep no more’ and ‘Do not be troubled’.
And by their speaking this powerful imagining was broken off, at the moment that I was about to say: ‘O Beatrice, you are blessed!’ and I had already said the words: ‘O Beatrice!’ when I opened my eyes, suddenly, and realised that I had been imagining. And though I spoke her name, my voice was so broken by sobbing that I felt these ladies had not understood.
I was very much ashamed, but through Love’s counsel I turned my face towards the ladies. And when they saw me, they began to say: ‘He looks like a dead man’ and said amongst themselves: ‘Let us see if we can comfort him’. At which they said many things to soothe me, and questioned me about the reason for my fear. When I felt somewhat comforted, realising it had been a fantasy, I said to them: ‘I will say what came to me’ and I told them what I had seen from beginning to end, but withholding the name of the most graceful lady.
Afterwards when I had recovered from my illness, I decided to write some verses about these things, as it appeared appropriate to my theme. So I wrote this canzone which begins with: ‘Donna pietosa’ the ordering of which is made clear in the explanation that follows.
A lady, youthful and piteous,This canzone has two parts: in the first I say, speaking to an unknown person, how I was roused from a vain fantasy, by certain ladies, and how promised to tell them of it: in the second I say what i told them. The second part begins with: ‘Mentr'io pensava: Lying there, thinking’. The first part is divided in two: in the first part I say what certain ladies, and one of them especially, said and did because of my fantasy, and before I had returned to a normal condition: in the second part I say what they said to me when I had left that delirium: and that part begins with: ‘Era la voce mia: My voice was’
Next where I say: ‘Mentr'io pensava’ I say how I told them that dream. And in this there are two parts: in the first I relate my dream in order: in the second, saying at what moment they woke me, I hint at my gratitude to them: and this part begins with: ‘Voi mi chimaste: Then you woke me’.
[ His sonetto to Guido Cavalcanti ]
And not long after these words, that my heart spoke to me with the tongue of Love, I saw a gentle lady coming towards me, who was famous for her beauty, and who had long been my best friend’s lady. And the name of this lady was Giovanna, except that because of her beauty as others believe she was also named Primavera (Spring, the first greenness): and called so. And after her, as I gazed, I saw the miraculous Beatrice come by.
These ladies passed near me one after the other, and it seemed that Love spoke in my heart, and said: ‘The first is named Primavera, only because of what happened today: since I inspired the originator of the name to call her Primavera, she who first passes (prima verrà), on the day that Beatrice shows herself to the imagination of her faithful one. And if you also consider her first name, it also says ‘she who first passes’, since Giovanna comes from Giovanni (John) who preceded the true light, saying: “Ego vox clamantis in deserto: parate viam Domini: I am a voice crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord”’.
And after that it seemed to me that he said these words also: ‘Anyone who considers carefully would call Beatrice Love for the great similarity she has to me.’ Later, reflecting, I decided to write to my best friend in verse (withholding certain words it seemed best to withhold), believing that his heart still marvelled at the beauty of this gentle Primavera: and I wrote this sonetto, which begins: ‘Io mi senti' svegliar.’
I felt a stirring in my heartThis sonetto has a number of parts: the first of them says how I felt a familiar tremor stirring in my heart, and how Love seemed to appear to me from afar, happy and in my heart: the second says how it seemed to me that love spoke to me in my heart, and how he looked to me: the third says how, when he had been with me a while, I saw and heard certain things. The second part begins with: ‘dicendo: “Or pensa”: saying: “ Now think”’: the third with: ‘E poco stando: And while’. The third part is divided in two: in the first I say what I saw: in the second I say what I heard. The second begins with: ‘Amor mi disse: Amor said to me.’
[ His justification of his personification of Love ]
And that I speak of him as if he were corporeal, moreover as though he were a man, is apparent from these three things I say of him. I say that I saw him approaching: and since to approach implies local movement, and local movement per se, following the Philosopher, exists only in a body, it is apparent that I make Love corporeal.
I also say of him that he smiles, and that he speaks: things which properly belong to man, and especially laughter: and therefore it is apparent that I make him human. To make this clear, in a way that is good for the present matter, if should first be understood that in ancient times there was no poetry of Love in the common tongue, but there was Love poetry by certain poets in the Latin tongue: amongst us, I say, and perhaps it happened amongst other peoples, and still happens, as in Greece, only literary, not vernacular poets treated of these things.
Not many years have passed since the first of these vernacular poets appeared: since to speak in rhyme in the common tongue is much the same as to speak in Latin verse, paying due regard to metre. And a sign that it is only a short time is that, if we choose to search in the language of oc and that of si, we will not find anything earlier than a hundred and fifty years ago.
And the reason why several crude rhymesters were famous for knowing how to write is that they were almost the first to write in the language of si. And the first who began to write as a poet of the common tongue was moved to do so because he wished to make his words understandable by a lady to whom verse in Latin was hard to understand. And this argues against those who rhyme on other matters than love, because it is a fact that this mode of speaking was first invented in order to speak of love.
From this it follows that since greater license is given to poets than prose writers, and since those who speak in rhyme are no other than the vernacular poets, it is apt and reasonable that greater license should be granted to them to speak than to other speakers in the common tongue: so that if any figure of speech or rhetorical flourish is conceded to the poets, it is conceded to the rhymesters. So if we see that the poets have spoken of inanimate things as if they had sense and reason, and made them talk to each other, and not just with real but with imaginary things, having things which do not exist speak, and many accidental things speak, as if they were substantial and human, it is fitting for writers of rhymes to do the same, but not without reason, and with a reason that can later be shown in prose.
That the poets have spoken like this is can be evidenced by Virgil, who says that Juno, who was an enemy of the Trojans, spoke to Aeolus, god of the winds, in the first book of the Aeneid: ‘Aeole, namque tibi: Aeolus, it was you’, and that the god replied to her with: Tuus, o regina, quid optes, explorare labor: mihi jussa capessere fas est: It is for you, o queen, to decide what our labours are to achieve: it is my duty to carry out your orders’. In the same poet he makes an inanimate thing (Apollo’s oracle) talk with animate things, in the third book of the Aeneid, with: ‘Dardanidae duri: You rough Trojans’.
In Lucan an animate thing talks with an inanimate thing, with: ‘Multum. Roma, tamen debes civilibus armis: Rome, you have greatly benefited from the civil wars.’
In Horace a man speaks to his own learning as if to another person: and not only are they Horace’s words, but he gives them as if quoting the style of goodly Homer, in his Poetics saying: ‘Dic mihi, Musa, virum: Tell me, Muse, about the man.’
In Ovid, Love speaks as if it were a person, at the start of his book titled De Remediis Amoris: Of the Remedies for Love, where he says: ‘Bella mihi, video, bella parantur, ait: Some fine things I see, some fine things are being prepared, he said.’
These examples should serve to as explanation to anyone who has objections concerning any part of my little book. And in case any ignorant person should assume too much, I will add that the poets did not write in this mode without good reason, nor should those who compose in rhyme, if they cannot justify what they are saying, since it would be shameful if someone composing in rhyme put in a figure of speech or a rhetorical flourish, and then, being asked, could not rid his words of such ornamentation so as to show the true meaning. My best friend and I know many who compose rhymes in this foolish manner.
[ His further praise of Beatrice ]
She went crowned and clothed with humility, showing no arrogance because of what she saw or heard. Many, when she passed, said: ‘She is no woman, but one of the most beautiful of Heaven’s angels.’ And others said: ‘She is a marvel: how blessed is the Lord, who can create such miracles!’
I say that she appeared so gentle and so full of all that was pleasing, that those who gazed at her comprehended in themselves a pure and soothing sweetness, that they could not describe: nor was there anyone who could gaze at her without immediately sighing.
These, and more marvellous things, arose from her virtues: so that thinking of it, wanting to repeat my style of praising her, I decided to write verse in which I would reveal her miraculous and excellent effect, so that not only those who could physically see her, but others might know of her what words can show. Then I wrote this sonetto, which begins: ‘Tanto gentile’.
So gentle and so pure appearsThis sonetto is so simple to understand, from what is said above, that it needs no division: and so, leaving it, [XXVII] I say that my lady came into such grace that not only was she honoured and praised, but through her many were also honoured and praised. Then, seeing this, and wanting to reveal it to those who had not seen it, I decided to write further verses that would make it known: and I then wrote this next sonetto that begins: ‘Vede perfettamente onne salute’
They have seen perfection of all welcomeThis sonetto has three parts: in the first I say among which people that lady seemed most miraculous: in the second I say how gracious was her company: in the third I say what things her power brought about in others. The second part begins with: ‘quelle que vano: those who go by’: the third with: ‘E sua bieltate: Her beauty is’.
This last part is divided in three: in the first I say what she brought about in ladies, that is through their own selves: in the second I say what she brought about in them in the eyes of others: in the third I say how not only in the ladies, but in everyone, and not only in her presence but in remembrance of her, she worked miraculously. The second begins with: ‘La vista sua: The sight of her’: and the third with: ‘Ed è ne li atti: And she is so’.
XXVII [ XXVIII ]
[ Her effect on Dante ]
So long has Love held power over me
XXVIII [ XXIX ]
[ What he will say concerning the death of Beatrice ]
I was still composing this canzone and had completed the stanza given previously, when the Lord of Justice called this most gentle one to glory under the sign of that queen, the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose name was held in greatest reverence in the words of this blessed Beatrice.
And although it might perhaps be right at present to say something of her departure from us, it is not my intention to say anything for three reasons: the first is that it is not part of my present theme, if one considers the introduction that opens this little book: the second is this, even if it were part of the present theme, my tongue is not sufficiently knowledgeable to treat of it as it should be treated: the third is this, even if one or the other were not the case, it is not fitting for me to treat of it, because treating of it would require me to praise myself, which is the most reprehensible thing one can do: and therefore I leave it to be treated of by another commentator.
However, since the number nine has appeared a number of times in my previous words, and it appears that this is not without meaning, and it seems that in her departure this number played a large part, it is fitting to say something as it seems necessary to my theme. So I will first say what part it played in her departure, and then I will give some reasons why this number was so closely tied to her.
XXIX [ XXX ]
[ The number nine ]
As to why this number was so closely tied to her, this might provide a reason: since, following Ptolemy and following Christian truth, there are nine revolving heavens, and following common astrological opinion these heavens must affect what is beneath them according to their aspects together, this number was closely linked to her in order to show that at her birth all the nine revolving heavens were in perfect accord.
This is one reason: but thinking more subtly, and following infallible truth, this number was she, herself: I say it symbolically, and I will explain it so. The number three is the root of nine, because, without any other number, of itself it creates nine, as can be clearly seen in that three times three is nine.
Therefore if three is of itself the only maker of nine, and the only maker from itself of miracles is threefold, that is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are three and one, that lady was accompanied by this number nine to reveal that she was a nine, that is a miracle, of which the root, that is of the miracle, is solely the miraculous Trinity.
Perhaps a more subtle person could find in it a more subtle reason: but this is the one that I see, and that pleases me most.
XXX [ XXXI ]
[ His letter to the Rulers ]
And I say this so that no one might wonder why I have written it previously, almost as an introduction to the new theme that follows it. And if anyone wants to criticise me for this, that I do not write the words that followed that quotation, I will excuse myself in that I intended from the first to write nothing except in the common tongue: so that, since the speech that follows that which is quoted is all in Latin, it would be against my intentions to write it. And likewise it is the intention of my best friend for whom I write this, also, that I should write it only in the common tongue.
XXXI [ XXXII ]
[ His canzone mourning Beatrice ]
I say that this mournful little canzone has three parts: the first is an introduction: in the second I speak of her: in the third I speak sorrowfully to the canzone. The second begins with: ‘Ita n'è Beatrice: Beatrice has gone’: the third with: ‘Pietosa mia canzone: My sorrowful canzone.
The first is divided in three: in the first I say why I am moved to speak: in the second I say I say to whom I would speak: in the third I say of whom I would speak. The second begins with: ‘E perché me ricorda: And so remembering’: the third with: ‘e dicerò: and I will speak’.
Then where I say: ‘Ita n'è Beatrice’, I speak of her: and within this there are two parts: first I say why she was taken from us: after that I say how others weep at her leaving, and I begin that part with: ‘Partissi de la sua: It parted from her’.
That part is divided in three: in the first I say who does not weep for her: in the second I say who does weep: in the third I speak of my state. The second begins with: ‘ma ven tristiza e voglia: but sadness and grief come’: the third with: ‘Dannomi angoscia: Anguish grants me’.
Then where I say: ‘Pietosa mia canzone’, I speak to the canzone itself, indicating which ladies it should go to, and take its place among them.
The grieving eyes for pity of the heart
XXXII [ XXXIII ]
[ His poem for one of Beatrice's brothers ]
Afterwards, thinking of it, I decided to write a sonetto in which I would grieve a little, and send it to that friend of mine, so that it seemed that I had made it for him: and I then wrote this sonetto which begins: ‘Venite a intender li sospiri miei: come and listen to my sighs’. It has two parts: in the first I call on Love’s faithful to hear me: in the second I speak about my state of misery. The second begins with: ‘li quai disconsolati: which disconsolately’.
Come and listen to my sighs,
XXXIII [ XXXIV ]
[ He also writes two stanzas of a canzone for him ]
I gave him the above sonetto and the canzone, saying that I had written them solely for him. The canzone begins: ‘Quantunque volte: Whenever’, and has two parts: in the one, that is in the first stanza, this dear friend, close to her, laments: in the second I lament myself, that is in the other stanza, which begins: ‘E' si raccoglie ne li miei: And there is heard in my’. And so it is clear in this canzone two people lament, the one laments as a brother, the other as a servant.
Whenever, alas! I remember
XXXIV [ XXXV ]
[ A year later Dante draws the figures of Angels ]
When I saw them, I rose, and greeted them saying: ‘Another was with me in my mind, so I was dreaming’. When they had left I returned to my work, that of drawing angelic figures: and creating them there came to me the thought of writing verse, as an anniversary, and writing them to those who had come to see me: and I then wrote this sonetto, which begins: ‘Era venuta: There came’ which has two versions of the opening, and therefore I will divide it according to the first, and mention the alternative.
I say that according to the first version this sonetto has three parts: in the first I say that this lady was already in my memory: in the second I say how Love affected me as a result: in the third I speak of the effects of Love. The second begins with: ‘Amor, che: Love, that’: the third with: ‘Piangendo uscivan for: They went weeping from’
This part divides in two: in the one I say that all my sighs went out speaking: in the second I say that some spoke different words to the rest. The second begins with: ‘Ma quei: But those’.
The second version is divided in the same way, except that in the first part I say when my lady came into my memory, and I do not say this in the other version.
There came into my mind
There came into my mind
XXXV [ XXXVI ]
[ The lady at the window ]
Then I saw a gentle and very lovely young lady, who was looking at me so pitifully from a window, showing so much in her face that all pity seemed concentrated in her.
Since, when it happens that the miserable see compassion for themselves in others, they are moved to weep more quickly, as though pitying themselves, I then felt my eyes begin to want to weep: and then, fearing to reveal my unhappy life, I withdrew from that lady’s sight: and later I said to myself: ‘It cannot be other than that the most noble love lives within that lady’.
And so I decided to write a sonetto, in which I would speak of her, and contain in it everything that is narrated in this account. And since this account is clear enough, I will not divide it. The sonetto begins with: ‘Videro li occhi mei’.
My eyes saw how much pity
XXXVI [ XXXVII ]
[ His further poem to the lady at the window ]
The colour of love and the semblance of pity
XXXVII [ XXXVIII ]
[ He is concerned at his own behaviour ]
‘Once you used to make everyone who saw your sad condition weep and now it seems you wish to forget that, because of this lady who gazes at you: who only gazes at you in so far as she grieves for the glorious lady for whom you used to weep: but do what you will, since I will remind you of her, accursed eyes, since your tears must have no cease, this side of death.’
And when I had spoken in this way, to my eyes, within my thoughts, sighs and anguish greatly assailed me. And so that this war in me should not remain locked within the miserable man who experienced it, I decided to create a sonetto, and to describe within it this terrible state. And I wrote this sonetto, which begins: ‘L'amaro lagrimar: The bitter weeping’.
It has two parts: in the first I speak to my eyes as my heart spoke to me: in the second I remove all doubt, clarifying who it is who speaks in this way: and this part begins with: ‘Così dice: So speaks’. Perhaps it could well be divided further, but this would be pointless, since it is rendered clear by the preceding commentary.
‘The bitter weeping that you made,
XXXVIII [ XXXIX ]
[ The struggle of the heart and the soul ]
And often I thought more lovingly, until my heart consented to it, that is to my reasoning. And when I had consented, I reflected on it, as if moved by reason, and said to myself: ‘God, what thought is this, that tries to console me in this vile way and hardly lets me think of anything else?’
Then another thought arose, and said to me: ‘Now you have been in such great tribulation, why do you not want refuge from such bitterness? You see that this is Love’s inspiration, who brings love’s passions before us, and it arises from that gentle place from which do those of the eyes of the lady who has shown us such pity.’
So, having often struggled with myself like this, I wished then to speak some words: and since in the war of my thoughts those which spoke of her conquered, it seemed to me that I should speak of her: and I wrote this sonetto, which begins: ‘Gentil pensero: Gentle thought: and I say ‘gentile’ in respect of its speaking of a gentle lady, which otherwise would be most reprehensible.
In this sonetto there are two parts of me, in accord with how my thought was divided. The one part I call the heart that is passion: the other I call the soul that is reason: and I say what one says to the other. And that it is fitting to call passion the heart, and the reason soul, is clear enough to those whom it pleases me to have understand this. It is true that in the preceding sonetto I take the part of the heart against the eyes, and that seems contrary to what I am saying now: and so I say that even there I intend the heart to represent passion, since my desire to remember my most gentle lady was still greater than to see the other, though I had some passion towards her, yet it seemed trivial: so it is clear that the one speech is not counter to the other.
This sonetto has three parts: in the first I begin to say to that lady how my desire turns completely towards her: in the second I say how the soul, that is reason, speaks to the heart, that is passion: in the third I say how it replies. The second part begins with: ‘L'anima dice: The soul says’: the third with: ‘Ei le responde: It replies’.
Gentle thought that speaks of you
XXXIX [ XL ]
[ His vision of Beatrice in glory ]
And I say that from then on I began to think of her with all my remorseful heart, so that sighs often revealed it: in such a way that they all, as they rose, spoke what my heart was saying, that is the name of that most gentle one, and how she had left us. And many times it happened that a thought would have so much sadness in it that I forgot what and where it was.
Through this renewal of my sighing, my lapsed weeping renewed itself in such a way that my eyes seemed two objects that only desired to weep: and it often happened that through long continuation of weeping, a purple colour ringed them, which appears in some of the sufferings of others. So it seems that their vanity was fittingly rewarded: so much so that from then on I could not gaze at anyone who looked at me if they might draw out a similar effect.
Then, wishing this unhappy desire and vain temptation to appear as overcome, so that the verses I had written before might create no doubts, I decided to create a sonetto in which I would include the essence of this account. And then I wrote: ‘Lasso! per forza di molti suspiri: Alas! Through the power of many sighs’ and I said ‘lasso’ because of my shame in this, that my eyes had been so inconstant. I will not divide this sonetto, since it is clear enough from my account.
Alas! Through the power of many sighs,
XL [ XLI ]
[ His poem addressing the pilgrims travelling to Rome ]
These pilgrims, it seemed to me, went along very pensively: so, thinking about them, I said to myself: ‘It seems to me these pilgrims are from a distant place, and I do not think they have even heard of my lady, and know nothing about her: indeed their thoughts are of other things than those here, so that they perhaps think of distant friends, of whom we know nothing.’
Then I said to myself: ‘I know that if they come from a nearby place, they would be somewhat distressed passing through the centre of this grieving city.’ Then I said to myself: ‘If I could detain them a little, I would make them weep before they left this city, since I would speak words that would make everyone weep who heard them.’
So, as they passed from sight, I decided to compose a sonetto, in which I would make plain what I said within myself: and so it would appear more piteous, I decided to write it as if I had spoken to them: and I wrote this sonetto which begins: ‘Deh peregrini che pensosi andante: O pilgrims who go thinking’. And I said ‘peregrini’ in the general sense of the word: since ‘pilgrims’ can be understood in two senses, in one case generalised, and in the other specific: in general to the extent that whoever travels from their country is a pilgrim: in particular in that no one is a pilgrim unless they go to or from the shrine of Saint James.
And it should be known that correctly there are three titles for the people who go in the service of the Almighty: they are called palmers if they go overseas, since they often bring back palm leaves: they are called pilgrims if they go to the shrine of Saint James in Galicia, since the sepulchre of Saint James was further away from his country than any other apostle: they are called romeos if they go to Rome, which is where those I call pilgrims were going.
I have not divided this sonetto, since it is clear enough from my account.
O pilgrims who go thinking,
XLI [ XLII ]
[ His poem for the two gentle ladies ]
The sonetto that I then composed begins: ‘Oltre la spera: Beyond the sphere’ and contains five parts. In the first I say where my thought travels, naming it by the name of one of its effects. In the second I say why it ascends, that is what makes it do so. In the third I say what it sees, that is a lady honoured above: and I call it then a ‘pilgrim spirit’, since it ascends spiritually, and stays there for a while like a pilgrim who is out of his own country.
In the fourth I say that it sees her as such, that is of such qualities, that I cannot understand them, that is to say that my thought leaps towards the qualities she has to a level that my intellect cannot comprehend: because it is a fact that our intellect fails before those blessed spirits as the eyes do before the sun: and so the Philosopher says in the second book of the Metaphysics.
In the fifth I say that although I cannot understand that place my thought has been drawn to, that is towards her miraculous qualities, at least I know this, that the thought is solely about my lady, since I hear her name often in my thoughts: and at the end of this fifth part I say ‘donna mie care: ladies dear to me’ to make it known that I speak to ladies.
The second part begins with: ‘intelligenza nova: new intelligence’ the third with: ‘Quand'elli è giunto: When it is near’: the fourth with: ‘Vedela tal: Seeing her such’: the fifth with: ‘So io che parla: I know it speaks’.
Perhaps it might be divided more subtly, and made more subtly comprehensible: but it may pass with these divisions, and therefore I do not continue to divide it further.
Beyond the sphere that circles most widely
XLII [ XLIII ]
[ The final vision ]
And to achieve this I study as much as I can, as she truly knows. So that, if it pleases Him by whom all things live, that my life lasts a few years, I hope to write of her what has never been written of any woman.
And then may it be pleasing to Him who is the Lord of courtesy, that my soul might go to see the glory of its lady, that is of that blessed Beatrice, who gloriously gazes on the face of Him qui est per omnia secula benedictus: who is blessed throughout all the ages.